Professor and Associate Head
My research focuses primarily on twentieth-century American literature (especially the novel), with strong emphases in the relationship between religion and literature and in Southern literature. I also work in the field of literary theory and have particular interests in the disciplinary overlaps among literary study, history, and aesthetics. My books include Hard Sayings: The Rhetoric of Christian Orthodoxy in Late Modern Fiction (Ohio State UP, 2013), The Limits of Literary Historicism (co-edited with Allen Dunn, U of Tennessee P, 2011), and Fears and Fascinations: Representing Catholicism in the American South (Fordham UP, 2005). I am currently at work on a project with the working title Dated Material: Metahistoricism and the Fiction of the Civil Rights Era, which considers contemporary responses to fictions published between 1948 and 1972 in order to theorize an aesthetic of "datedness" and to reflect upon what such an aesthetic might mean for historicist critical practice.
Recent courses that I have taught include ENGL 341 (Religion and Spirituality in American Literature); ENGL 441 (Southern Literature); ENGL 690 (Special Topics: What We Talk about When We Talk about Historicism); ENGL 436 (Modern American Novel); and several sections of ENGL 482, the department's Major Authors course (Flannery O'Connor and Muriel Spark, William Faulkner, and Eudora Welty and Richard Wright).
B.A., Tulane University
M.A., University of Kent (England)
M.A., Ph.D. Vanderbilt University
- Hard Sayings: The Rhetoric of Christian Orthodoxy in Late Modern Fiction. The Ohio State University Press, 2013.
- The Limits of Literary Historicism (co-edited with Allen Dunn). University of Tennessee Press, 2011.
- Editor, “The South and the Sublime,” a special issue of The Southern Quarterly, 48 (Spring 2011).
- Fears and Fascinations: Representing Catholicism in the American South. Fordham University Press, 2005.
- "Between History and Aesthetics: Dirt and Desire in Dialogue with Affect Theory and Paul Ricoeur." south: a scholarly journal 2 (Spring 2016): 192-211.
- Myth as Therapy in Lee Smith's Oral History." Mississippi Quarterly 68 (Winter-Spring 2015): 257-75.
- “Literature.” In Keywords for Southern Studies, eds. Scott Romine and Jennifer Greeson. University of Georgia Press, 2016. 250-63.
- “Lillian Smith, Cold War Intellectual.” Southern Literary Journal 44 (Spring 2012): 51-68.
- “On Belief, Conflict, and Universality: Flannery O’Connor, Walter Benn Michaels, Slavoj Zizek.” In Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Terrorism, eds. Robert Donahoo and Avis Hewitt. University of Tennessee Press, 2010. 231-39.
- “Religion for ‘Really Intelligent People’: The Rhetoric of Muriel Spark’s Reality and Dreams. Religion and Literature 41 (Autumn 2009): 43-66.
- “John Barth’s The Floating Opera and Southern Modernism of the 1950s.” Twentieth-Century Literature 54 (Fall 2008): 307-38.
- “Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone and the Ludic in African-American Historical Fiction.” Modern Fiction Studies 53 (Spring 2007): 120-39.
- “The City Reconsidered: Problems and Possibilities of Urban Community in ‘A Stroke of Good Fortune’ and ‘The Artificial Nigger,’” The Flannery O’Connor Review 3 (2005): 4-18.
- “Elizabeth Spencer, the White Civil Rights Novel, and the Postsouthern,” Modern Language Quarterly 65 (December 2004): 561-81.
- “Whitman’s End of History: ‘As I Sat Alone by Blue Ontario’s Shore’: Democratic Vistas, and the Postbellum Politics of Nostalgia,” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 22.1 (Summer 2004): 1-22.
- “‘Something Haphazard and Botched’: Flannery O’Connor’s Critique of the Visual in ‘Parker’s Back,’” Mississippi Quarterly 57 (Summer 2004): 407-21.
- “Making Patriarchy Work for You: Jill Conner Browne’s Southern, Retrofeminist Conduct Manuals,” Southern Quarterly 42 (Spring 2004): 1-17.
- “The ‘Nous’ of Southern Catholic Quadroons: Racial, Ethnic, and Religious Identity in Les Cenelles, American Literature 73 (December 2001): 757-78.
- “The Logic of Expenditure in Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Mosaic 34 (March 2001): 19-34.
- “Contextualizing Flannery O’Connor: Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, and the Catholic Turn in Southern Literature,” Southern Quarterly 38 (Fall 1999): 173-90.
- Review of Critical Insights: Short Fiction of Flannery O'Connor, ed. Robert C. Evans. Forthcoming in The Flannery O'Connor Review.
- Review of Cosmic Defiance: Updike's Kierkegaard and the Maples Stories by David Crowe. Forthcoming in Religion and Literature.
- Review of A Lillian Smith Reader, eds. Margaret Rose Gladney and Lisa Hodgens. American Literary History Online Review, Series X (2017).
- Review of Bryan Giemza, Irish Catholic Writers and the Invention of the American South. The Flannery O’Connor Review 12 (2014): 133-35.
- Review of Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, Composing Selves: Southern Women and Autobiography. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 32.1 (Spring 2013): 239-41.
- Review of Wendy Piper, Misfits and Marble Fauns: Religion and Romance in Hawthorne and O’Connor. Cheers! The Flannery O’Connor Society Newsletter 18 (Fall 2011): 5-7.
- Review of Steven R. Watkins, Flannery O’Connor and Teilhard de Chardin: A Journey Together Towards Hope and Understanding About Life. The Flannery O’Connor Review 8 (2010): 152-54.
- “Audacious Performances,” review-essay of Resisting History: Gender, Modernity, and Authorship in William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Eudora Welty by Barbara Ladd. Mississippi Quarterly 60 (Summer 2007): 605-10.
- Review of Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South, Ralph C. Wood. Mississippi Quarterly 58 (Spring 2005): 418-22
- Review of A Singular Modernity: On the Ontology of the Present by Frederick Jameson,Soudings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 86 (Fall/Winter 2003): 563-69
- “Repeating a Difference: New Readings of the Quixotic and the Religious in Southern Literature,” review essay of Struggles Over the Word: Race and Religion in Faulkner, O’Connor, Hurston, and Wright by Timothy P. Caron, The Southern Inheritors of Don Quixote by Montserrat Ginés, and Walker Percy’s Sacramental Landscapes: The Search in the Desert by Allen Pridgen, Mississippi Quarterly 55 (Winter 2001/02): 133-40.
Advisory Board, Religion and Literature
Executive Council, Society for the Study of Southern Literature
Awards, Honors & Grants
- Lindsay Young Professor, 2017-2019
- John C. Hodges Award for Teaching Excellence, 2003
- British Marshall Scholar, 1994-1996